‘Murder Hornets’ In The U.S. Means BIG Trouble For Bees

Image via iStock
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A few Asian giant hornets can decimate an entire honeybee colony in hours

Invasive “murder hornets” have appeared in the U.S. and they may make you want to stay inside forever.

“Murder hornets,” or the Asian giant hornet, started appearing in British Columbia and Washington state last year.

They don’t have any natural predators since they’re typically found in Japan and China.

Asian giant hornets received their terrifying nickname based on how fast they can kill entire populations of honeybees.

How fast?

Really fast — take a look at how quickly 30 Japanese giant hornets (a variant of the Asian giant hornet) kill 30,000 honeybees.

Quarantine may not seem like such a bad idea after all.

“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” said Susan Cobey, a bee breeder at Washington State University.

Monster isn’t far off. These “monster hornets” further earn their nickname because of how massive they are and how they decimate honeybees.

They measure in right at two inches. That’s basically a flying AA battery with a thirst for blood — or honey[bees].

Once they come across a colony, they attack by ripping bees heads off and flying off with their thorax to feed to their young.


“It’s a shockingly large hornet,” said Todd Murray, WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist. “It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.”

Ending “murder hornets” before they end us

The Asian giant hornet is a terrifying invasive species in many ways. However, it’s not so much a direct threat to humans as it is an indirect threat.

These hornets have killed up to 50 people a year on average in Japan with their stingers that can go through beekeeper suits.

But that’s a small number compared to who could be affected if their populations aren’t prevented from remaining in North America.

If they manage to significantly damage honeybee populations because those bees can’t fight back and we can’t stop them, it impacts so much more than bees and honey.

Farmers in the northwest depend on honeybees to pollinate crops like apples, blueberries, and cherries.

If they expand their reach and start affecting those crops and others further south, it will severely affect our food supply.

“As a new species entering our state, this is the first drop in the bucket,” said Murray.

These invasive species make permanent changes to the environment once they are established.

Just look at Florida and its python problem in the Everglades.

“Just like that, it’s forever different,” Murray said. We need to teach people how to recognize and identify this hornet while populations are small, so that we can eradicate it while we still have a chance.”

It’s important that we do anything and everything we can to stop the spread of this species.

“Don’t try to take them out yourself if you see them,” says WSDA entomologist Chris Looney. “If you get into them, run away, then call us! It is really important for us to know of every sighting, if we’re going to have any hope of eradication.”

Please contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture Pest Program at 1‑800‑443‑6684, [email protected] or online at agr.wa.gov/hornets if you spot an Asian giant hornet.

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